Yesterday was the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, so I’ve found a topical war memorial – a church built as a memorial to the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. The battle features as the climax of Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV, Part One, in which Henry IV defeats a force led by rebel noblemen, although the play mainly concentrates on the coming of age of his son – Hal – later to be Henry V. Henry V goes on to appear in two more Shakespeare plays, including the one that bears his name.
It is estimated that around 1,600 men were killed during the battle. St Mary Magdalene church was built a few years later on the site of a great burial pit, as a memorial and a place where masses could be offered for the dead. In fact, the village in which the church is situated is called Battlefield. It’s not uncommon for a place name to incorporate the word ‘battle’, one of the more famous being Battle, site of the Battle of Hastings, and another place where a church was built as a memorial.
As well as being a memorial itself, St Mary Magdalene contains a marble memorial tablet to ten local men who died during the First and Second World Wars and, in the churchyard, there’s an addition to his parents’ gravestone commemorating, Francis Chubb, killed in action in the Boer War, 13 October 1900, in Carolina, South Africa.